Fire haunts Shah Alam

Published: June 20, 2011
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A second fire broke out in the Shah Alam Market this year, the losses estimated to be in the millions. PHOTOS: ABID NAWAZ AND ZAHOORUL HAQ / EXPESS

A (read another) fire broke out in a shop at a market in Shah Alam Market at about 2:15pm on Friday that later spread to other shops and warehouses.

A shopkeeper said it was quiet worrying. A lot of people were running for their lives. But this time the fire service was absolutely “out of this world;” the Rescue 1122 officials reached almost immediately. But narrow and densely-populated alleys impeded their efforts to douse the fire.

This is the second `big fire’ that has gutted goods worth millions of rupees at the Shah Alam Market this year. On February 7, a ten-storey building in the same market caught fire and later engulfed 11 mini markets, seven plazas, 250 shops and 50 houses.

According to a report, Rescue 1122 replied to 1,511 fire emergencies in May 2011 alone only in Lahore. The report said that the fire incidents cost Rs1,805 million in losses in just the month of May.

The owners of markets and industries need to ensure fire safety measures and install fire hydrants to help firefighters save their property in case of a fire. There is also a dire need that markets establish and improve various fire prevention safety systems and operating procedures. Every market should have emergency exits or evacuation routes and also have its own fire control room. Installation of electrical equipment at markets should be up to international standards.

When it comes to protesting electricity load shedding or imposition of new taxes, one finds all market committees shouting slogans in unison against the government.

But why don’t they generate their own funds to curb such incidents?

An Express Tribune report said these “millionaire shopkeepers“ are not ready to buy a fire extinguisher worth Rs3,000.

All they do is look up to God or the “holier-than-thou“ government for assistance.

It is said that nations learn from their mistakes and the various problems that they go through. In the wake of the recent tsunami and earthquake, the Japanese learnt to build stronger nuclear plants that can withstand stronger earthquakes. We, the Pakistanis, experience something new and novel every day, be it a fire or an indiscriminate firing incident, but we are not ready to mend our ways.

Jaan Haider

Jaan Haider

Translator at The Express Tribune, based in Lahore.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.